Graduate of St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame
J.D., DePaul College of Law
Founder & President of Wealth Watchers International
Alice Wood: Wealth Watchers
Ten years ago, Founder and President of Wealth Watchers International Alice Wood sustained a brain injury from breathing through a faulty oxygen mask on a commercial airplane.
“My first memory of something really being wrong with me was when I kissed my husband, Dan, after I got home and I realized that my face was numb. It was like I had a shot of Novocain where the oxygen mask had covered my face.”
She was an estate attorney who grew up in an old-fashioned family of bankers, and her family had instilled in her the fundamental principles of financial stability. “In college I lived on $25 a month. I was always a pretty frugal person, even when I was making good money as an attorney.” Now after the injury, she was unable to keep up with her job. With her decision making capability severely diminished, she went on huge spending binges and over ate. She put on weight and spiraled into terrible debt.
“I remember buying sunglasses, because I had lost mine. When I went to the store, I couldn’t make up my mind so I bought them all!”
The biggest wake-up call Alice had was when she received a bill from a credit card company that she didn’t recognize for $20,000. “I was sure it was a mistake, because we only used one credit card. I called the company to let them know there was an error in their billing and the person told me that I had written a convenience check to myself and deposited it into our checking account. I went back to our past statements, and sure enough, I had done that. I didn’t even remember doing it.”
Looking to lose the weight, Alice attended Weight Watchers, which gave her the ability not only to lose the weight but to keep it off as well. Inspired by the program’s daily discipline of journaling and the principle of group accountability, Alice realized it was the system’s proven method of tracking each and every bite that helped her to manage her appetite. What kept her from doing the same thing with her out-of-control bank account?
After her accountant simply told her she couldn’t spend more than she had, Alice found the solution to her family’s financial well-being lay in the simple but powerful daily discipline of journaling, analyzing and managing expenses. The Woods had reached $55,000 of debt, and in the first year of tracking their spending, Alice and Dan spent $12,000 less compared to the prior year. Their journaling and new money management methods lead them out of debt.
DAILY DISPOSABLE INCOME
In Wealth Watchers you will find all the tools needed to organize your finances, complete a monthly budget, determine your disposable income, and understand which spending patterns are knocking you off track. At the core of the program is one simple calculation: your Daily Disposable Income (DDI), the money you can spend each day without going into debt. The second half of the book focuses on financial journaling; you are encouraged to record daily spending and to track it against your DDI goal for 12 months.
WEALTH WATCHERS INTERNATIONAL
Today Wealth Watchers has grown from a local educational effort in Alice’s hometown to a company with recognition from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago as America’s largest financial literacy program in the workplace. Visa and McDonald’s are both using the debt-reduction program with their employees touching more than half a million employees in 14,000 locations. Alice’s role in the program earned her an invitation to have her program presented to theTreasury Department this past January—such an honor goes to only a select few a year. All this from a woman who simply wanted to manage her finances in a way that made sense to her.
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